For the last two weeks, the Roxborough Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia has been closed - a victim of a broken air-conditioning system - leaving residents to seek other places to beat the heat, socialize, or check out a book.
The air-conditioning stopped working May 25, and the city hopes to reopen the library Wednesday, said Sandy Horrocks, vice president of external affairs for the Free Library. It will cost $30,000 to repair the building's two compressors, which date to 1969, when the library opened.
Chris Erb and his son, Charlie, didn't know the library was closed before walking to it Tuesday afternoon. Charlie, 5, likes to check out dinosaur books. While they waited outside in the 6200 block of Ridge Avenue, a librarian brought out five dinosaur books for Charlie to read.
"I have to say they're being wonderful," said Erb, 46. Charlie "was very disappointed. He loves the library. [The librarian] asked if she could get us anything."
Horrocks said there may be more problems with some library branches because of their age. Seventeen of the 54 were built before 1930 and are among thousands of Carnegie library buildings.
"A lot of our buildings are wonderful old buildings, but they have leaky roofs, need new windows, and have old systems," Horrocks said. "It's a challenge to keep these old buildings running well."
Roxborough residents are disappointed that the library is shut down.
Linda Horn, 64, who often walks her dog past the branch, said it was one reason she had moved to the neighborhood. She goes three or four times a week to read periodicals.
"It's a big loss," Horn said. "I feel for the people in this neighborhood who have to use the computer center. Some depend on the computers for job-seeking, e-mail, and research."
Horn said the library served many people - especially parents who take their children to reading groups.
"I'd see tons of strollers and moms outside the library," Horn said. "All that is gone."
The library is also a place for some residents to cool off during hot summer days. It will be closed at a crucial time for those without air-conditioning.
The closest branch is Andorra, about 21/2 miles northeast of Roxborough. Horrocks said the librarians at Roxborough were working to serve the community by emptying the book drop and notifying residents of the closing. Library fees will be waived and due dates extended while the library is closed, she said.
Horn said she was ready for it to reopen.
"I pay a lot of taxes, and I hope it's fixed soon," she said. "I expect that from my city."